I recently got my hands on a book that I haven’t been able to put down, and I can only but recommend it to all women over the age of 35. In fact, even if you’re younger, just buy a copy and keep it – you will need it one day!
The Change Before the The Change by Dr Laura E. Corio, M.D., contains everything you need to know to stay healthy in the decade before menopause. So many of us think that “it all happens” at menopause – the time when your periods end once and for all. How wrong we are. The decade leading up to menopause is a time of enormous change in your body, which affects hundreds of bodily functions that you aren’t even aware of. Compare yourself during this time to a pre-teen and early teenage girl. There are enormous changes happening in her body for a few years before she starts menstruating which affect her body, moods, growth spurts, skin etc. Same thing for perimenopausal women who experience serious hormonal fluctuations long before they stop bleeding, that can cause a multitude of often debilitating symptoms. In fact, most women find their symptoms are at their worst during perimenopause; after menopause they begin to feel better. Symptoms include irregular bleeding, hot flashes, palpitations, mood swings, headaches, insomnia, memory loss, vaginal itching and dryness, lack of libido, dry skin and hair, urinary tract infections and weight gain.
Sometime last year I started feeling increasingly moody and cranky, and when my dear family also started commenting on “mom’s moods”, I realised something was amiss. I started reading up a bit on menopause and then realised that I was actually in the middle of perimenopause and I could start ticking quite a few of the afore-mentioned symptoms! I was a woman on a mission, and decided to educate myself. I stumbled on this highly informative, encyclopaedia of perimenopause by Dr Laura Corio, which I could quite happily start handing out on street corners to all women in their forties!
Dr Corio is a gynae in New York, with 20 years experience in a field she is so passionate about. Her book is factual, friendly and easy to read. She often refers to case studies, and now and then you almost feel as if you are reading about yourself.
What I absolutely love about this book is her holistic view – she covers the entire body, from hormonal fluctuations and their impact on bleeding patterns, to how to deal with memory loss (you’re not getting Alzheimers quite yet!), skin issues, osteoporosis (now’s the time to have that first bone density scan), heart disease, diabetes, your thyroid, diet and exercise, vitamin supplements etc.
Did you know that oestrogen controls over 300 bodily functions, so when your hormonal levels take on a life of their own, changes are going to start occurring that will affect you in one way or another. Dr Corio teaches her readers which vitamins and supplements to take, describes hormone replacement therapy in detail ( there are a multitude of options available and need not be feared), discusses how important it is to exercise, and what to incorporate into your diet. Once you start reading about other women’s problems you realise that you aren’t alone, and that what you’re experiencing is 100% normal.
Regular check ups are essential and awareness of your own body is encouraged. She does emphasise a healthy lifestyle, but she isn’t fanatical – she just states the facts, and if you can’t or won’t join the dots, the onus is on you. Things that you haven’t really thought of like osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease ,can still be managed and your risks reduced if you start doing something about it now. Dr Corio is of the opinion that perimenopause may actually be the ideal time to start hormone supplements. Not only can hormones relieve perimenopausal symptoms, but they also provide a broad array of long-term health benefits. Definitely a topic to discuss with your gynae at your next check up.
One thing in particular that I found absolutely fascinating, is that women in Japan hardly suffer from hot flashes and PMS and don’t have nearly as many bone fractures as western women, purely because they eat a diet rich in soy, which is packed with phytoestrogens. To be honest, soy has never been part of my diet, but I have started drinking soya milk everyday. If you’re not mad about the taste, dilute it a bit with cow’s milk.
If you’re in your forties, I encourage you to read this book and take charge of your health. Be informed and know what to ask your doctor at your next check-up. The Change Before The Change is a book written by a woman for women, and can be referred to time and time again. A must have! I ordered my copy on-line through Exclusive Books.